Chronicling the tennis cluster


April 14th, 2011 Day One Thursday

12:05 p.m. I arrived an hour-and-a-half after the first match of the day between IPFW and Western Illinois and they are about 20 minutes away from an IPFW win. This cluster, as they call it, was originally scheduled to be played in Brookings outside at Hillcrest Park, but was moved inside to Sioux Empire Fitness in Sioux Falls because of poor weather.

12:57 p.m. Tennis coach Nathan McLain, a former private tennis trainer, is mentioned. He was charged with two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct back in February 2010 for having sex with a teenage girl he was “coaching” in tennis. He was sentenced to two years probation. It sounds like the girl was OK with the relationship after reading a recent article earlier in the month on the Star Tribune website.

2:35 p.m. A second official arrives and can’t quite figure out the way to the courts. He finally makes it.

2:45 p.m. The second official’s wife must not be from around here since she asks SDSU head coach Don Hanson which color skirts are South Dakota (not South Dakota State) and which one is Oral Roberts.

4:35 p.m. IUPUI has arrived for their 6:30 p.m. scheduled match vs. IPFW as they have taken over our lounge area. One player is crying for some reason.

4:50 p.m. The IPFW assistant coach insists that Wes Unseld hobbled out of the locker room for the Knicks in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Their head coach insists that it was Walt Frazier. They are both wrong. It was Willis Reed. I don’t have the heart to tell them. Also, an IUPUI player thought that Susan B. Anthony had breast cancer when she was actually thinking of Susan G. Komen. This is the future of America, people.

5:05 p.m. The Jacks lose their first match 4-2 to Oral Roberts. The match clocks in at just about three hours.

5:08 p.m. An IUPUI player has come back up to the lounge as she has forgotten her rackets.

5:09 p.m. “The Jackrabbits are San Diego State, right?” says one of the IUPUI moms. Her husband calls her on it.

5:15 p.m. The older of the two officials was just asked by the younger one who won the match. The old guy says SDSU. He is incorrect. I say nothing.

5:20 p.m. The younger of the two officials is talking with the old official and his wife. He says that IPFW is Indiana-Purdue-Fort Worth. It is actually Fort Wayne, Ind., not Fort Worth, Texas. This same man will be an official for University of Minnesota tennis Sunday vs. Ohio State. Apparently a geography test is not needed to be a tennis official. Hopefully he doesn’t get lost on his way driving to Mankato, I mean Minneapolis.

9:30 p.m. The SDSU-Centenary match is moved to Westward Ho Country Club and they are just wrapping up. Four local girls come and see that the match is taking place and think there are still two matches to go. They end up leaving a little mad. SDSU and Centenary finish up five minutes later to the tune of a 4-0 Jackrabbit shutout.

April 15th, 2011 Day Two Friday

10:30 p.m. I arrived to hear the end of a conversation between two old ladies talking about Obama’s birth certificate and No Child Left Behind. One player from IPFW comes up to get wrapped in a bag of ice and doesn’t know what school is hosting. She asks the trainer and the trainer informs her about South Dakota State and its proximity to Sioux Falls. I will give their player a bit of a pass since she is from Japan. The beautiful noise of kids screaming engulf the area as a little play center is near the front door for those parents that want to work out. Either someone is being killed or they are playing with Lego’s. I can’t tell the difference.

10:45 p.m. The IPFW coach talks about possibly moving their match against SDSU up a day from 7:30 p.m. Saturday to later tonight. Also, the younger of the two officials is up here typing away on his computer. What I find interesting is that with three courts going on at the same time, there is only one official down there. He is not in an umpire chair. He is just on the court switching between matches. It is kind of like pickup basketball where the players call their own fouls and keep track of the score, but in this case the players call the errors when the umpire isn’t around. It’s strange to me that one of the two officials is not on the court during play. Maybe they only need one at a time and two at once is a plus.

10:55 p.m. Love is a choice, not an emotion I find out according to one voice near the front desk. Everyone has a nice laugh by the knowledge that was just dropped. The 2011 Summit League women’s tennis cluster: Where life lessons are learned.

12:05 p.m. SDSU is ready to take the court vs. Western Illinois. The younger official speculates that this could go five hours.

3:45 p.m. Over three-and-a-half hours later, the Jacks defeat the Leathernecks 4-3. It came down to the No. 6 singles match between SDSU’s Katie Elifson and WIU’s Kara Chicoine. Elifson has no trouble winning 6-0, 6-0.

4:15 p.m. As IUPUI and Oral Roberts are about to square off, we are informed that only two of the three courts are now playable as the leaking roof at the facility has made one court unplayable.

4:45 p.m. Just as I am about to leave to get something to eat, an Oral Roberts player slips on the curtain that surrounds the outer edge of the court and hurts her knee pretty bad. She is lying in pain.

6:20 p.m. I return to see the ORU player with crutches and her knee wrapped. Apparently her dad is a doctor, so don’t feel too bad for her. And still, the younger (mid to late 40’s) official is up here talking to the other guys’ wife and just watching while two matches go on. If I am paying this guy $1,000 for his three days of service, he better be on the court. Easy money, I guess.

Also, some kids and their parents are crowding the lounge area. We will see what is up. One of the kids correctly observes that you don’t see green furniture very often like the green leather-like chairs in the lounge. They must be here for some karate thing as a 20-something guy has just walked in with a black karate outfit. He is ready to take them to the dojo. First rule of the dojo: no shoes. Also, no metal objects like rings, earrings (unless you can’t take them out), but glasses are fine.

10:45 p.m. It is snowing quite heavily on the drive home.

April 15th, 2011 Day Three Saturday

12:00 p.m. I get here at noon for the final day of competition. SDSU starts things off against IUPUI.

2:40 p.m. Very pleased with my Chicago Bulls coming from behind to win game one of their first round series against the Indiana Pacers.

4:20 p.m. The first match of the day is finally finished as IUPUI win 4-2.

5:30 p.m. The words “tampon case” are uttered by an IUPUI player. It has come to this.

10:40 p.m. The final match of the cluster between Oral Roberts and Centenary is an easy 4-0 Golden Eagles victory and I am out the door on the way home.